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3 juin 2010

Inuit mothers are amazing.

Inuit mothers are amazing. These days, it seems like so many Inuit women and girls are raising children completely on their own. Traditionally, this was very rare, but in this day and age, it’s all too common. What went wrong here? Why is it that so many Inuit men are just not taking responsibility for their own children? Often, they’ll go as far as recognizing that a child is theirs, but it ends there. No financial, parental or even emotional support is given to the mothers who struggle to maintain their sanity and financial wellbeing. Although Inuit women do generally get support from extended family -parents, siblings, aunts or cousins- that doesn’t equal the presence of a father in a child’s life.

Too many of the women I’m close to are in this very situation, which has prompted me to start asking these questions.

A lot of the time, people are simply separated by distance. The communities are spread so far apart that the cost of travel can be financially crippling to say the least, especially from one coast to the other. When a couple does choose to stay together for the sake of the child, it’s usually (not always!) but usually the mother who moves away from home, which makes her more vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment from her boyfriend/husband and even in a few cases, his family. The prospect of being abused and socially unaccepted in an unfamiliar community is more daunting than singlehandedly raising children.

In cases where people want to stay in their home communities, child support is an option, but (surprise!) many men just don’t pay. I mean, it is difficult to survive up here with such an incredibly high cost of living, but that’s absolutely no excuse to make a woman shoulder the entire burden of financially supporting a child or children. Take into account the cost of daycare (which I believe is subsidized in Nunavik, as we are part of Quebec. . but still, 7$ a day could buy –what? a litre of milk? Real orange juice? Maybe some broccoli?), diapers, milk, food, clothing and everything else it requires to raise a child, a woman is left with a HUGE responsibility. Many women are unable to work because they either cannot find or afford babysitters when daycares are full or not functional (which is the case in some communities).

In a culture where family values are of utmost importance, what does it mean to have almost an entire generation of kids who grew up without the presence of a father? All of those Inuit sons with no one to teach them to hunt, to build igloos and butcher meat.. no one to show them what it means to be an Inuk man; all of those beautiful Inuit daughters with no male presence to show them that they are valuable and worthy of love and respect.

Not only does it take a community to raise a child, it takes a father.


À cause de l'impossibilité de supporter les différentes polices de caractères en syllabiques, les commentaires doivent obligatoirement être rédigés en Anglais, en Français ou en Inuktitut romanisé. Nous sommes désolés de l'inconvénient.

inuit mothers
Publié le Mardi 29 Juin 2010 par cindy
Thank you for this post. The odds facing Inuit women seem insurmountable. Isolation, such a high cost of living, single parenthood all add up to hardship for the mother and child. I’m studying midwifery in the south and have learned a lot about Inuit culture and about traditional birth and parenting. I hope that many will have access and see the studies that show the outcomes in the north are still not optimal and that those in power will increase programs and funding to help out.

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